Best of AP — Honorable Mention


All-formats team reveals Brazil’s alleged Bitcoin pyramid schemes

Former waiter-turned-multimillionaire Glaidson Acacio dos Santos had a home in this luxury condominium complex in Cabo Frio, shown Dec. 15, 2021. Dos Santos, the founder of G.A.S Consulting & Technology, a cryptocurrency investment firm, is the central figure in what is alleged to be one of Brazil’s biggest-ever pyramid schemes. (AP Photo/Bruna Prado)


Text stringer Diane Jeantet, senior cameraman Mario Lobão and photo stringer Bruna Prado, all based in Brazil, traveled to Cabo Frio, a tourist city a couple hours north of Rio de Janeiro which has been wracked with problems and violence following a surge of Bitcoin pyramid schemes. Their trip followed Brazil’s federal police bust last April of three people loading a chopper with $1.3 million in neatly packed bills.

Jeantet obtained hundreds of police and prosecutors’ reports regarding the alleged pyramid scheme run by the town’s top dog,Glaidson dos Santos. She sorted through the reports,crafting a gripping narrative of the man’s rise to power and fortune,and his eventual imprisonment. But she also discovered the story was more complex,with many of the man’s former clients swearing that dos Santos was being wrongly accused for having the audacity to beat a rigged financial system at its own game.

Such nuance gave the reader an inside look at why Bitcoin has become hugely popular in Brazil. Video journalist Tatiana Pollastri used the team’s material to produce a strong video piece,while he text story was published in English,Spanish and Portuguese, picked up by publications from USA Today to The Times of India.

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